There’s a famous Puerto Rican song called “En mi viejo San Juan” that moves me to tears every time I hear it.
It’s about a man born in San Juan who moves to the States, but dreams of returning to Puerto Rico. Time passes, life happens, and he never makes it back, but he left his heart and soul on the island. The lyrics chronicle the path of many Puerto Ricans who move stateside, my family included. After moving to the States when I was six, I was determined to write my song differently, so I moved back to Puerto Rico as an adult in 2019.
As the island’s capital, San Juan is the most populated and metropolitan city in Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is where most cruise ships dock and is a history lover’s dream — the Spanish founded it over 500 years ago — boasting forts, colorful Spanish colonial buildings, and annual festivals.
The island has an abundance of culture, as evidenced through street art taking over local neighborhoods and the island’s recognition as the birthplace of reggaetón. Puerto Rico is also home to the piña colada and considered the rum capital of the world where visitors can taste exclusive blends not sold anywhere else. Farm-to-table dining experiences have earned international coverage and entrepreneur incubators have given food trucks new life in many neighborhoods.
San Juan is a city that was built to last and a gateway to all of the island’s treasures. It’s a can’t-miss stop if you’re visiting Puerto Rico, and as a local, I’ve welcomed countless friends to the island through this city. From restaurants that have stood the test of time to up-and-coming small businesses and exciting adventures, here’s my complete guide on what to do on your next trip to Puerto Rico’s capital.
Explore Insider’s guide to visiting San Jan: